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The Fanelli Boys aired from September 1990 until Febuary 1991 on NBC.
Now that her husband had passed away, and the boys were grown and out on their own, Mom Fanelli ( Ann Morgan Guilbert), was ready to sell the family home in Brookyn and move to Florida. But who's that at the door? Ronnie ( Andy Hirsch), has just dropped out of school; girl-chasing Frankie's ( Chris Meloni's) engagement is off; Anthony ( Ned Eisenberg), who took over the family funeral parlor is $25,000 in debt; and Dom ( Joe Pantoliano), the hustler, is between scores. They all moved back home so Mom could straighten out their lives, once again. Father Angelo ( Richard Libertini), was Theresa's tall, balding brother who offered dubious advice, though not so dubious as that of the neighborhood fortune-teller Pilamena ( Vera Lockwood). Could Pilamena have forseen-cancellation by the time snow flies?
A Review from Entertainment Weekly
The Fanelli Boys
September 07, 1990 at 04:00 AM EDT
The Fanelli Boys is a guy version of The Golden Girls. These boys were created by the same writer-producers who brought us those girls, and the premise is similar: Four grown-up brothers living under one roof, joking, making blithely sexist remarks, and bickering nonstop.
One thing distinguishes The Boys from The Girls: The men live with their mother, a standard-issue tough-but-lovable old bird played by Ann Guilbert, whom baby-boomers will recall as neighbor Millie Helper on the original Dick Van Dyke Show. Otherwise, the boys all sound the same — the men jabber in identical tough-guy Italian accents, and I kept losing track of which Fanelli was which. Even so distinctive an actor as Joe Pantoliano, excellent in movies like Midnight Run, gets lost in this clichéd mess. D
A Review from USA TODAY
TV PREVIEW/ BY MATT ROUSH
Tasty 'Fanelli Boys' follow sitcom recipe
In some ways the four Fanelli Boys are only so much traditional sitcom sausage. Italian meatballs, to be more precise.
These Brooklyn brothers are awfully easy to pigeonhole . You can call them Dopey( though Hunky), cutie, Smarmy and Clammy.
And of course, there's Ma.
These boys, despite all their cocky bravado and neighborhood swagger ,still jerk to the movements of their widowed ma's apron strings. As played by Ann Guilbert-next door neighbor Millie on The Dick Van Dyke Show-Ma is a riot.
A barking prune with affection in her exasperated growl, she recalls Ruth Gordon's vigorous charisma when she wishes for fine china: " I'm 62 years old and still eating off plates Dad got at the Texaco station."
Her four sons who all sheeplishly return home in the pilot run a gamut of sitcom conventions : the slick operator whose schemes never work, the hung-up son who took over the family business ( a mortuary), the stud with a vacancy upstairs and the college boy who's sweet but aimless.
They superficially drawn, but nicely played by a sturdy, often unfamiliar cast. Ned Eisenberg gets the folded-hands posture of his trade just right, and amusingly suffers his ma's nightly kitchen-table matchmaking.
Created by a quartet schooled in the making of tart, well-shaped barbs at The Golden Girls ( much as NBC's Wings was created by a trio formerly with Cheers), The Fanelli Boys gets an enviable launch on Miss America night before moving to Wednesdays.
It's not likely to become anyone's favorite show , but is as inviting as a homemade cannoli.
An Article from People Magazine
November 19, 1990
Onscreen or Off, the Fanelli Boys's Joe Pantoliano Never Pays Retail
By Jeannie Park, Craig Tomashoff
Hang around actor Joe Pantoliano and sooner or later his buddies will tell you the story about the car. Seems that a couple of months ago Pantoliano offered to negotiate a car deal for Chris Meloni, one of his co-stars in NBC's new sitcom The Fanelli Boys (Wed., 9 P.M.). Pantoliano, 37, insisted that bargaining was "my hobby. It's what I do." At the auto showroom, Meloni watched Pantoliano wheedle and coax for two full hours, but the dealers refused to budge. "Finally, I got them down $400," Pantoliano boasts. But then the salesmen asked how much Meloni made. And Meloni obviously not a gumba gave them the honest, network-size figure.
"Two hours of work were flushed right down the toilet," sighs Pantoliano. They left empty-handed. But more humiliating for Pantoliano was that Meloni went out alone the next day and scored the same car for $800 under the sticker price. Still, Pantoliano relishes the memory of the haggle. "I just love knocking heads, talking them down," he says. "It's my life."
Indeed, Pantoliano's role as TV's hustling but harmless Dominic Fanelli fits him like a tailored Armani suit which he can get for you at a discount. For inspiration, Pantoliano need only conjure up his native Hoboken, N.J., where his parents bought Christmas gifts out of the back of a truck filled with stolen toys. His most notable previous role was another con artist gig, as Guido the pimp in 1983's Risky Business. "People always remember, 'Oh, you were the scumbag in Risky Business,' " says Pantoliano. He hopes that Fanelli Boys, detailing the exploits of an Italian-American matriarch and her four ne'er-do-well sons, will finally allow him to shake off the Guido notoriety.
If so, Aunt Rita back in Hoboken will no doubt be saying, "I told you so." Though Pantoliano was never much interested in TV, he says Rita always told him that to become famous, "You gotta do a TV series. That's the only way." As for critics' charges that Fanelli is nothing more than a caricature of Italian-Americans, Pantoliano says the characters' ethnicity is irrelevant. The show, he says, "is all about the blue-collar struggle."
Paging through a family photo album in his two-bedroom Venice, Calif., home, Pantoliano reels off tales of characters in his past who had nicknames like Clarky (he had big ears like Clark Gable), Frankie the Hook (he had a bent finger) and Uncle Popeye (he resembled the cartoon sailor). His dad, Dominic, was called Monk, says Pantoliano, "because when he was born, he looked like a monkey." Monk, a paint company foreman, moved out when Joey was in his early teens; his mother's second cousin, Florio Isabella, then moved in and became a surrogate dad to Joey and his younger sister, Mary Ann.
Florio had just gotten out of the Atlanta federal pen after serving eight years for hijacking trucks. In Hoboken he got a legit job as a truck driver and made sure Joey didn't follow in his crooked footsteps. "He told me, 'If I ever find you doing anything wrong, I'll shoot you in both knees, and every time you take a step, you'll think of me.' " Pantoliano stayed clean.
Not that his family, especially mom Mary, who owned a deli, didn't sometimes sneak around the rules. When the phone company shut off service because of overdue bills, Mary would go through the obituaries and use the name of a dead person to start a new account. According to Joe, she ran numbers for the mob for two summers on the Jersey shore. A bingo fanatic, she often played 12 cards at once; when she died in 1982, her bag of bingo pieces was buried with her.
Never a stellar student, Joey left school when he was 18 to study acting in Manhattan. His mother was so outraged when he broke the news she wrestled him to the deli floor, rolling over fallen bags of potato chips. But she eventually bit for the idea and let him go. Pantoliano supported himself by waiting tables, sometimes getting a little help from his friends. When he needed to find a bike for under $30, his Jersey pals broke into a store and stole five 10-speeds "so I could have a choice of color."
His biggest theatrical success in New York City may have been noticing aspiring actress Morgan Kester in the audience of a play one night in 1976. They began dating and a few months later took off for Hollywood together. Good career move for Pantoliano, as it turned out. His credit list has been buoyed by a steady stream of roles in such films as The Idolmaker, Empire of the Sun, La Bamba and Midnight Run. His personal life hasn't quite kept pace however. Married in 1979, he and Kester had a son, Marco, in 1981, but divorced in 1985. "I loved her," Joe says, "but couldn't make it work." Marco (no nickname yet) lives with Kester in Seattle but spends three to four months each year with his father. "I adore him," says Joe.
No matter how much of a hit he becomes in Hollywood, Pantoliano will always keep an apartment in Hoboken. And his new girlfriend, model Nancy Sheppard, 27, whom he met on a blind date last year, says he still "has bargain-hunter written all over him." When his childhood chum Mike Lackowitz visited last year, Pantoliano dragged him out to buy a TV. "We went to this store, and Joey told me to park my rental car in front," says Lackowitz. "So we go in and argue and finally get them down $300. And then Joey wants it delivered today." Because no store truck was available, the only solution was to rent one themselves. Meanwhile, the illegally parked rental car had been towed. In the end, after claiming the car and getting the TV home, Lackowitz says the $300 savings had been pretty much wiped out.
"No way," protests Pantoliano. "The ticket on the car cost $50. The cab to get the car cost $10. The truck rental cost $25." Tallying the tab up like a scorecard, he says, "I still saved more than $200."
Jeannie Park, Craig Tomashoff in Los Angeles
An Article from USA TODAY
Published on December 21, 1990
'Fanelli Boys' just happy to be alive
By Jefferson Graham
The choice at NBC was down to two new series , The Fanelli Boys or Working It Out. Which to renew?
Working, which starred Jane Curtin and Stephen Collins had been winning its timeslot, Saturday nights at 8:30 EST/PST. Fanelli airing Wednesdays at 9 , wasn't.
NBC switched the two series for a week, and the ratings reversed. Airing on Saturday, Fanelli won the time period. NBC canceled Working, despite its ratings and star power.
But there's more to the story of how Fanelli got renewed.
Fanelli is produced by KTMB productions -four fomer writers of Golden Girls, NBC's Saturday night mainstay. Kathy Speer, Terry Grossman, Mort Nathan and Barry Fanaro spent a year trying to come up with a sitcom for NBC. Then NBC Entertainment Chairman Brandon Tartikoff called with the concept: What if Danny DeVito, John Travolta, Harold Ramis and Keanu Reeves moved in with their mother in Brooklyn?"
And Fanelli was born.
The show-which stars Chris Meloni, Ned Eisenberg, Joe Pantoliano, and Andy Hirsch-had a shaky start in the ratings and was rumored to be cancellation fodder for weeks. The producers thought it was all over.
" It was difficult to live through," says Fanaro. " We had gotten ourselves mentally prepared to move on."
As KTMB prepared to film the 13th episode , NBC Entertainment President Warren Littlefield called to say he wanted to visit.
" You could hear the hearts thump in the room when he walked in ," says Nathan. " Everyone was so nervous."
They didn't have to be. Littlefield renewed the show for the entire season. The next morning , he called the producers of Working It Out and told them they were canceled. Renewals got the in-person treatment.
" NBC kept telling us to ignore the ratings," says Grossman. " It was quite an acting job on our part. We had to tell everybody not to worry and keep spirits up."
Now that they have the vote of confidence from NBC , their concern is just making the " funniest show we can," says Speer.
They are talking with Golden Girls star Beatrice Arthur about doing a guest spot-not playing her Dorothy character from Golden Girls however-and want the Boys to have some female interaction.
" We're looking at girlfriends and semi-regulars the guys can get involved with at work," says Speer.
For more on The Fanelli Boys go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fanelli_Boys
To watch the opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rX9o1oKa0w0
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Keywords: The Cast of Fanelli Boys